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Week 11 BTB mailbag: Cowboys coaching called into question

People have questions about the Cowboys as they prepare for the Vikings, and we strive to provide answers.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Every week, we will be taking questions on Twitter about the upcoming Dallas Cowboys game and other questions surrounding the team. So let’s get right into it.

@RichGillet: “Premature, but is that the [final] nail in the Mike McCarthy coffin?”

Brandon: With all due respect, that is severely premature. Mike McCarthy has an 18-8 record dating back to last season. 2020 can be thrown out the window at this point because the team is completely different two years later. Not only has he brought in contributing free agents over the previous seasons, but he has built a younger team with talent coming from the draft. I do think 2022 has been McCarthy’s best season as the coach of the Cowboys, and there should be a 90 percent chance he’s back next season. The ten percent of doubt comes from if they absolutely lay an egg in the playoffs and get embarrassed in the wild-card round. If that happens, we’ll see.

Mike: This is definitely premature yes. Mike McCarthy was in the hot seat a little to start the season, but after winning games at the start of the season without a handful of key starters, he proved can keep a locker room together at the worst of times. Is there doubt setting in after a heartbreaking loss? Yes, of course there is. But when the Cowboys beat both teams that made it to the Super Bowl last year, there was no doubt in McCarthy’s coaching ability. If, however, McCarthy fails to get success in the playoffs, let’s call that the nail.

@DonaldAsbury: “My question is why is we have such hard time with setting the edges, and why have they not tried Jabril Cox?”

Brandon: If you go on Twitter and watch “Baldy’s Breakdowns” from this week, former NFL offensive lineman Brian Baldinger does a great job showing why Aaron Jones was able to run through canyon-sized holes against the Cowboys. Dan Quinn loves his lineman to use twist stunts. That can be great when it’s a pass play but can be a disaster when a run play is called. In one particular play, Quinton Bohanna tried to twist to the outside when Dante Fowler was supposed to go inside. Unfortunately, both players were stuck in the same spot, which allowed Jones to burst through. I think Jabril Cox has great sideline-to-sideline speed, but run defense was never his strength coming out of college. I know we have said that before on this website. However, I do think, “why not?” at this point. Cox is a faster player, which would help with tracking runs to the outside. I personally think Damone Clark needs to see more snaps before that happens.

Mike: Overaggression and speed, that’s the simple answer. The whole Dan Quinn system starts with fast mobile linebackers, and an outward aggressive mindset to get the defensive linemen into the oppositions backfield. That result means there has to be something else to give. That exchange is getting beat by fast running backs, RPO plays, and sweeps. When your front four are found bunched in close proximity, not holding gap assignments on run plays, that’s just over aggression to get to the ball quickly. As for Jabril Cox, I think last week the team was missing Anthony Barr, but also needed to give Damone Clark more snaps. The team has seen some of Cox play, mostly on special teams, so it’s not like they haven’t given him a chance to get out there. Personally I feel there’s more to his injury from last year that’s still lingering, or a part of his game he needs to get back level, before the coaches feel confident in playing him.

@MarkJenkins: “Do we go all in on Sean Peyton [sic] or promote Dan Quinn in order to keep him in the building?”

Brandon: I think the answer would be neither. As I mentioned above, I do believe Mike McCarthy will be here next season as the head coach. Now, if the Cowboys have an early playoff exit, I think that might change the minds of the Jones family and potentially promote Quinn to head coach. The problem with Sean Payton is that he likes to have similar control to what Bill Belichek has in New England. The Cowboys are very happy with how their personnel department is run at the moment, and I don’t disagree with them.

Mike: If anything was to ever happen in the near future, as much as Jerry loves Sean Payton, he still is theoretically under contract with New Orleans, so it would cost something just to have him here. And does Sean even want to coach again? If they were to move on from McCarthy, and that’s a big “if” for now, then they would probably look to Dan Quinn.

@GordonKinnear: “Result from Sunday night aside, is Dak consistent enough to take us deep into the playoffs if we even get there?”

Brandon: I believe so. The Packers game was Dak Prescott’s first road game of the season in reported 25-degree weather by the end of the night. That’s a tough task for anyone still finding their footing after missing most of the season. If the “communication issues” are becoming a consistent problem past Thanksgiving, then we can have this conversation. Coming off of the wins against the Lions and Bears, no one thought his play was perfect, but a clear upgrade from what the team had in Cooper Rush. If Prescott’s two interceptions against Green Bay were because of communication problems, take those away, and he had a pretty good night otherwise.

Mike: We can’t say last week was a great game for Dak. But at the same time, we can also say the issues were not all on Dak. Timing routes were off, some route combinations were a little confusing, as well as having some plays called in the wrong areas of the field. This is still the same Dak that last year led an offense that was the best in the NFL. The inconsistency on the offense this year is a collaborative effect from all the parts on that side of the ball. Dropped passes, penalties, play-calls out of sequence, and what looks like to be a level of over-complication in the playbook, all play a part in inconsistent play. If the coaches can iron out the creases, make things simpler and more disciplined, you have to think Dak has the ability to help drive this offense deep into the playoffs.

Be sure to check @kenfigkowboys and @brandoniswrite on Twitter for the weekly post, asking you for your questions for the weekly mailbag.

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